Ordinary time, Year A

Bishop Banda’s Closing Speech on the 2018-2022 Strategic Planning Workshop

The Chairperson, BDBM Consultancy Trust; our Laity – men, women and the youth; the Religious – men and women; and my dear brother Priests. As we come to the close of our Strategic Planning Workshop, it is only befitting that we make a recap of the feedback of the climate survey; the input from our Consultants on change management; and our own participation and contributions towards the much needed change in our Diocese.

We acknowledge the findings from the Climate survey; our own understatements and overstatements of information which were the basis of the conclusions made by our Consultants. We may wish to dispute some of the feedback, but figures do not lie. It remains incumbent with each and everyone of us and especially for the future of the Diocese to strive to communicate effectively, timely, correctly, and sincerely. Because any wrong raw data results into wrong conclusions and a distortion of the reality. As a result, our planning may be affected as we may be addressing wrong causes.

We appreciate the work, input and guidance of our Consultants which was tarred towards resolving the gaps and inadequacies. Their input helped us during our reflections to consider our challenges and to find solutions befitting in mitigating the same.
We applause and approve the participation and contributions of each and everyone of you in this workshop. Together, we have shown that together we can rise above our challenges – and together we can turn our challenges into opportunities and strengths. You will recall the many instances it was expressed in the feedback that our first Strategic Plan 2012 -2017, lacked general consultation with many other stakeholders which resulted into poor implementation across all levels of the Diocese. This notion verified the old adage which says: “No consultation means no commitment”. It was equally noted that there was generally no unity of purpose which was exhibited by selfishness and a lack of good stewardship, etc.

In my heart of hearts, some of the outcomes may not be accurate. However, it is not my desire to neither dispute the results of the Climate Survey nor prove to the contrary – but to express my profound worry on the levels of communication both by default and design. I also dread that we may be prescribing wrong solutions for wrong root causes. At any rate, we shall belabour to work within and with the feedback received and especially our proposed remedies.

It is true that modernity demands involvement of all stakeholders, and consultations with the affected persons is considered not an option. Consultation as it were is one of the democratic tenets of representation. Today, consultation is deemed as one of the best ways of organizing institutions, organizations and peoples (Mwanalushi, 1992).

It is not within the scope of these remarks to espouse this system but suffices to mention that at the core of this system(s), is time limits, which are clearly defined, with measurable goals, clearly defined policies, clearly defined systems and processes, procedures i.e. best practices of organizational management (Hit et al, 2011; Dess et al, 2012; Wikipedia, 2013).

In this regard of representation, the minority must submit to the majority, no matter how huge the minority may be. However, everything that people make can also be undone again by other people. Equally, everything that has origin in human likes can be disliked by others. Everything that one majority decides upon can be revoked by another majority (Ratzinger, 1991).

Therefore, a Church based on human resolutions becomes merely a human church. It is then reduced to the level of the makeable, of the obvious, of opinion. And opinion replaces faith. And ultimately, the self made church impresses only the “Self”. It is a church made out of discussions, debates, compromises and resolutions (Ibid). However, the church or faith is not a product of discussion, debate, compromise or resolution – but a gift that is given to us all. This gift is not a product of our own will and invention but precedes us and comes to meet us as the incomprehensible reality that is greater than our hearts (1 Jn. 3: 20).

Christ says: “I have not come to do my will, but the will of my Father” (Jn. 7: 6). What Christ declares is not His. Jesus has nothing of His own apart from the Father’s. He Himself is involved in His mission. Jesus is totally one with the Father. His selflessness is His true accreditation. It gives Him ultimate authority because of His self-emptying. When He became man, He made God present in His person amongst us. He gathered around Himself disciple that He entrusted with His mission, the mission of the Father. He commissioned His disciples saying: “Just as the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 13:20; 17:18; 20:21).

Therefore, the change that is needed does not consist in remodelling the Church according to our taste, or according to our inventions, or changing times but rather ourselves in clearing incessantly all other human additions in the understanding of our faith and mission and to let the pure light that comes from above penetrate in our hearts and that is the dawning of pure freedom.

Our calling and our mission is dependent on our Lord, Jesus Christ, as He says:
“The Son can do nothing of Himself” (Jn. 5: 19, 30)
“Without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5)

This “nothing” that the disciples share with Jesus expresses both, the power and impotence of their mission. The disciples on their own, by the power of their understanding, knowledge and will, cannot do anything they are meant to do as apostles. It is precisely in having “nothing” to call their own that their communion with Jesus is of primary importance. Jesus is entirely from the Father, He has His being through the Father and in the Father. Jesus would not exist at all if He were not a continuous coming forth from and a self-return to the Father. Therefore, their communion with Jesus gives them capacity to do all things.

From the foregoing, and in order that God’s image may shine radiantly in us, we must first and foremost receive the purification ourselves to be freed from all that impedes this communion with the Father such as dishonesty, selfishness, disunity, unfaithfulness, etc. (Strategic Planning Workshop, 2017). These vices demean the dignity of God within us and impede that communion with our Lord and with one another. However, it is by conversion of heart and turning to the Lord in communion that we will become honest, magnanimous, unanimous, good stewards, transparent and accountable, and a people of integrity.

I wish to submit that it is faith – in its full magnitude and breadth that begs for change and need to be transformed. It is in the light of faith that we must truly consider all the values of our own self-constructed privileges, rights and conditions.
It is common knowledge that the church will constantly have the need for human constructions of best practices of management organization to help her speak and act in the era in which she finds herself. The philosopher Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living” meaning that, we need from time to time to take stalk of ourselves, our organization and our environment and to ask ourselves serious questions. Where are we? How are we doing? How can we do better in our organization?

These questions will help us to be focused.Time and again, we are unable to grow towards greater understanding of ourselves because we don’t take time to re-examine and reflect upon our lives. And another philosopher, observed, “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it”. Examining of our life reveals patterns of behaviors; that much of our life is an unconscious repetition of our actions. We also discover that much of our thinking creates our reality. Because, our thoughts drive our actions.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was worthwhile, that we took time off from our busy schedules to come and do an introspection of our Diocese. Thanks for your contributions. Together we have planned our own future, the future we desire. Together we have committed ourselves to turn our weaknesses into strengths and our threats into opportunities of growth. May the next Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 usher us into a Deeper and Holistic Evangelisation that may bring about the much needed conversion of our hearts. And I thank you for your attention.

+Dr. Alick Banda
Bishop of Ndola

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